Greek shipowners could relocate to Britain after it leaves the European Union if European regulators demand changes to favourable shipping taxes in Greece, reports Reuters, citing Theodore Veniamis, president of the Union of Greek Shipowners (UGS).
The EU has been pressing Greece to end generous tax allowances it grants shipowners, although the government has steered away from imposing heavy taxes on an industry that operates some of the world’s biggest vessels. “If the European Union threatens us … obviously we will look at alternative options,” Veniamis said, adding that shipowners could consider relocating, possibly to the UK after its exit from the EU in March 2019.
Speaking at Greece’s Posidonia shipping week in Athens, Veniamis said that “If Brexit happens …we, shipping, have a very good alternative option if something goes awry in the European Union.”
The shipowners union has long said that increasing taxes could lead them to relocate outside of the EU, but the current administration, led by Alexis Tsipras, which had vowed in the past to take on shipowners over taxes, has not pursued the policy.
Veniamis said that shipowners and the EU were closer to resolving their differences on the tax dispute, adding that the shipowners intended to remain in Greece.
Several Greek shipowners moved operations out of the UK in recent years after tax changes that removed their favourable non-domicile tax status in the UK.